US Physician Leaders Distressed by ER Specialist Shortage
Some physician leaders are outraged at even the mere suggestion of paying specialists to take emergency room call. A couple even went so far as to call specialist pay \"blackmail\" and \"extortion.\"
\"I must be old-school because I believe taking ER call is part of a physician\'s obligation to his/her community ... I am embarrassed to see physicians feel they are not responsible to provide any charity care to their fellow man,\" wrote one respondent to a recent poll by the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE).
Other physician leaders said paying for call is inevitable: \"Physicians have incredible financial pressures to stay in practice. All they can sell is their time. There is no reason for physicians alone to shoulder the entire burden of community health care.\"
The poll and related articles are featured in the May/June issue of The Physician Executive-Journal of Medical Management published by ACPE.
In the past, doctors took emergency call without extra pay as part of their service to the community and to maintain hospital privileges. The idea of asking hospitals for extra pay to take emergency call emerged about four years ago.
While the pay or not-to-pay question is a hot button for physicians, there was one thing the poll respondents mostly agreed on: the specialist shortage is hurting hospitals.
The majority of poll respondents, 64 percent, said they struggle with the problem of finding specialists to take emergency room call. Only 29 percent said it wasn\'t a problem.
Sent to 3,000 physician executives in hospitals and group practices across the country, the poll drew 814 participants, a 27 percent response rate. (Physician executives are doctors who hold administrative posts and oversee physicians and other medical staff.)
When it comes to paying specialists to take call, the group was split down the middle: 46 percent said their hospitals pay specialists; 44 percent said their hospitals don\'t.
Yet, of those who said their hospitals don\'t pay specialists, nearly half (46 percent) are considering the controversial idea.
Perhaps the most interesting responses were found in the open-ended comments posted by 445 respondents to the poll. Some blasted the idea of paying for call; others gave hearty approval.
For complete ACPE survey results and copies of the related articles, contact Bill Steiger email@example.com or 800-562-8088.
With more than 10,000 members, ACPE is the nation\'s largest health care organization for physician executives-doctors who hold leadership and management positions.
LOCAL STORY ANGLE: Are hospitals in your community experiencing a shortage of specialists to handle emergencies? Do the hospitals pay specialists to take emergency room call?
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